I have been in South Korea for about two weeks, getting settled in the dorms at Yonsei University and preparing for classes. Time hasn’t been on my side until now.
My name is Tatiana Cubas and I am a student at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. I am a mass communications major, which is the reason I decided to join the exchange program to study in South Korea this spring. Yonsei University provides courses that count toward my degree.
It was easy to sign up for the program but it was stressful with all the paperwork and funds to worry about. At one point I wanted to quit and stay home just so the stress would go away. However, a friend of mine told me to keep going because I would regret it if I quit. Leaving my family was hard and the flights were a bit harder. Since I live in Florida, my flights had to depart from Tampa, Chicago, Japan and then finally arrive to South Korea. It was an extremely long day but thankfully none of the flights were delayed.
One of the things that did bother me was the decrease in pressure while on my flight to Chicago. I got this horrible pain above my left eyebrow. When my flight landed, the pain went away but I looked it up to see what it was. I found out that it was because of the pressure and other people experienced the same excruciating pain. I was afraid the pain would come back on the 13 hour flight to Japan but nothing happened. Also, 13 hours in a plane is very long. Half way through the flight I didn’t know how to sit anymore. The good thing was that United Airlines provided a lot of foods and drinks.
The moment I landed at Incheon International Airport, passed through immigration and picked up my bags, I felt out of place. There were signs in English so I didn’t get lost but being a country different from my own made me feel lost. I knew from the beginning it wasn’t going to be easy getting used to South Korea. It was too late to turn back anyway and I certainly didn’t want to be stuck on a plane for so many hours again anytime soon.
February 24 I checked into my dorm at International House on campus. The process went by easily when I gave them my paperwork and they gave me my room key. My roommate wasn’t in yet so I had the dorm to myself for a few hours. I unpacked a few things, went to get something to eat and took a nap once I got back to my dorm.
I met my roommate later on that night and found out she’s Hispanic just like me. It was comforting that I could speak to someone in Spanish if I wanted.
Orientation was the following day and that went on from 9 a.m. to almost 10 p.m. It ended nicely with the Mentors Club taking the exchange students to dinner. I was able to meet other exchange students and make friends. After a few days of settling in, I went exploring with a few friends to see what was nearby. I also found out Korean food is very spicy.
I think I’ll save culture shock and the other adventures I’ve been on for another entry.
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